Jesus doesn’t mince words when he talks about our responsibilities as his followers – “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23 ESV).
I finally figured out that the reason this verse has never really bothered me is because I’ve never really understood it. There’s so much here that blows right over my head…come after Christ, deny myself, take up my cross. Really? How does that work?
Until yesterday. That is, it wasn’t until yesterday that I began to understand it. Okay, at least part of it. As I read the verse, the phrase “take up your cross daily” began to resonate. What does the cross mean within this context? Among other things, it seems to me that the cross represents two things (at least): It was Christ’s burden, but it was also a symbol of his calling to bring salvation to his people through his sacrificial death.
We don’t have to look too far in scripture to sense the burden of Christ’s calling. He agonized in Gethsemane; great drops of blood fell from his face as he contemplated what was about to happen to him. He cried “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” “I’m thirsty.” “It is finished.”
It’s beginning to make sense to me now. Jesus asks me to take up my cross daily. I have a calling. The question I now find myself asking is to what extent do I feel the burden of my calling? When was the last time I agonized over my role as a father, an employee, or a member of my community? Quick prayers said on the drive to work or shallow have-a-nice-day devotionals do not reflect a life that feels the burden of a calling. Rather, I’ve come to realize that the “burdened” life requires sacrificial prayer, extensive time in God’s word, and love-motivated obedience to the one who called me.
If you’re reading this blog, you have a calling as well. Your primary calling is the calling to become a follower of Christ through repentance and belief in the good news of the gospel. Beyond that, there’s the calling to serve him in the various spheres of life in which you find yourself (family, work, church, community – just to name a few). For our students on Belhaven University’s adult campuses, they’ve realized that completing an undergraduate or graduate degree represents God’s calling to prepare them for leadership usually in, but not limited to, their workplaces. If God is calling you to serve him as an adult university student, we can help! Many of our staff members have been adult (non-traditional) students and know the balancing act that must take place for adults to successfully complete their education.
I’ve resolved not to take my calling lightly any more, and I hope that’s your resolution as well. I want to experience the burden of my calling each day as Christ has asked me to. To do anything less is to trivialize a role that the Creator-God of this universe has given me.